In 1968, the pop artist Andy Warhol uttered his famous words, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
Frankly, that’s not an achievement that I’ve ever been interested in pursuing, but it’s very clear that the woods are full of those who are consumed by their personal vision of claiming even a momentary level of notoriety.
I was watching Stage 8 of the Tour de France earlier today. This was the first mountain stage of the race and that got me to thinking how long will it be before I would catch a glimpse of “The Devil“?
If you haven’t been a regular viewer of past Tour’s de France, you might be asking yourself, “Who the devil is the Tour de France Devil“?
Well, I am a regular Tour watcher and I’ll be happy to bring you up to speed on this topic. Since 1993, Dieter “Didi ” Senft of Reichenwalde, Germany has been attending the Tour de France dressed in a red devil suit and carrying a trident. He’s an expert at postioning himself along the Tour’s route each day so as to optimize his opportunities off being picked up by the mobile television cameras capturing images of the riders. He’s typically seen during the mountain stages of the race when the slower speeds of the riders in the peleton ensure him of maximum on-camera time. A few seconds here – a few seconds there, pretty soon you’ve tallied up your personal15 minutes.
Unfortunately in 2012, poor health kept Didi away from the Tour for the first time since 1993 and so far this year, I haven’t had any Devil sightings. But there’s still two weeks to go, so I remain cautiously optimistic.
I have absolutely no idea why this gentleman feels compelled to dress up like the devil for three weeks each July. Likewise, I have no idea how he manages to get so much time off from whatever his normal occupation may be to attend the Tour with such regularity, not to mention longevity. But I do find him to be a leading candidate for becoming the poster child for Warhol’s prediction that fame will ultimately become an entitlement for all who desire it; even if it happens to be fleeting.
Didi is certainly not the only example of sport’s fans engaged in the pursuit of drawing attention to themselves at athletic competitions.
As a sports photographer, I’ve had many opportunities to capture images of other latter-day Didi’s pressing the bounds of fashion and decorum to the breaking point. I often wonder if these folks truly believe that their efforts inspire higher levels of performance from the athletes and teams that they are supporting or if they would they be honest enough to admit that their real motivation is simply to draw attention to themselves.
Here’s to those valiant sports fanatics who continue to confuse sporting events with the celebration of Halloween. May their efforts at unbridled and unique self-expression continue unabated; for both events would be less enjoyable without them!